In a state where the allure of outdoor adventures beckons, the treadmill often finds itself cast aside, perceived as a monotonous and uninspiring tool for fitness. However, beneath its unassuming appearance lies a powerhouse of potential, offering a plethora of benefits that can transform your fitness journey.
For those mornings where your winter legs and spirits aren’t rising early enough to suffer the steeps of the Nosedive Headwall on skins, or you’re tired of suiting up with 3 layers and 2 headlights for your morning run, we delve into the often-overlooked advantages of running on a treadmill and explore how this indoor running companion can be a game-changer for both beginners and seasoned athletes. Whether you’re a dedicated outdoor enthusiast or someone seeking a versatile and controlled environment for your workouts, here’s some workouts to mix things up and keep it interesting if you’re stuck indoors.
Instead of increasing the speed to a run as you get warmed up on the treadmill, continue walking but crank the incline up to 12-15%. Keep this up for anywhere to 30-75minutes and make sure to bring an extra towel. Focus hard on each stride and engaging the rear leg muscles while keeping your torso as upright as possible. It doesn’t seem like much by description, but you will undoubtedly access some core and posterior muscles (glutes, hamstrings, lower back/core) while getting a killer cardio workout. It is the perfect because it is the same muscle pattern or running without the impact or eccentric movement of going back down the hill.
THE FORGOTTEN CORE
If you have ever seen someone doubled over while pushing their knee down with their hands to take another step along a trail or incline, you know how miserable and tiresome it looks. To avoid being worn down and hunched over at the waist, hit this series of exercises to get your body and lungs ready for the inclines that await.
Walk or hike at an incline on the treadmill (or even stairmaster) for 5-10minutes to get the heartrate up a bit but don’t go over the top – you shouldn’t be gasping for breath.
Set up a mat next to your machine. After the 5-10min interval get on the mat for 10-30 “Supermans” (laying prone, flex and engage your lower back, hamstrings, and scapula muscles, like you’re flying)
After that, grab a bar or just a PVC pipe and crank out 5-15 “Good mornings”
Repeat this 3-4 times. Not only will they 45-60min fly by but the workout will hit the essential muscle groups needed to get you up to the top of the mountain without bowing down to it.
If a day on the trails has ever left your calves screaming in soreness for the following few days, you are not alone. The descent from the peak back to the trailhead is a completely different animal than getting up to the top. Gravity is on your side when it comes to lungs/cardio work but it comes at the cost of the muscles in your lower leg (think ankle stabilizers and calf). Going back down the mountain leaves you more sore in these muscle groups because stepping downward is an “eccentric” movement. This means you have to work to keep the muscle from elongating.
Get ready for the trek back down the mountain and prep your ankles to avoid injury with this routine:
10min on the treadmill either with no incline or a slight decline if the option is available. Set it to a speed that warms you up but doesn’t get you drastically out of breath. Instead of walking or running, exaggerate a tip-top stride. Try not to let your heels touch the treadmill and really push off your toes.
Get off the treadmill and do 10-20 single foot toe hops. Again, stay off the heels if you can. You can do this with a jump rope or just on your own.
After the hops, perform 10-20 calf raises. You can do these with your chest up against a wall or for an added bonus on a stability half-ball. This will help prevent rolled ankles by improving balance and stability, especially while you are tired from the tip-toes and hops.
Repeat this series 3-4 times.
THE HOLY ROLLER
If you want to mix some faster paced stuff into your workout while also getting more hiking-focused try this one on for size. Guaranteed to give you a great workout while distracting you from the awfully slow treadmill timer.
Start off, as mentioned above, at a slower pace on 12-15% incline for 10-15min
Then switch it to a bit faster pace while reducing the grade to 5-8% for another 10-15min.
Repeat as desired. Keep it a power walk or switch to a slower jog up the lower gradient. It will target all sorts of different leg muscles while also incorporating a great cardio workout.
Mixing things up helps to take your mind off the dreadfully slow timer on the treadmill. These routines also help to improve your muscle movement while you are cardiovascularly fatigued. It will also keep your mind on the exercises and focusing on what muscle groups to engage.
Billy is an easy going and adventure seeking endurance junkie, coach, and writer. Catch him enjoying everything from local 5k races, to UTMB, and former record holder for fastest time at the Antarctic Ice Marathon. When he’s not running or biking, he makes a living as a massage therapist at his own practice in downtown Burlington. Check him out at btvmassage.com.